Monday, April 30, 2012

By faith ... but how?

You know that whole faith-and-works paradox in the Bible? If you grew up in a good biblical church as I did, then of course you do. Ephesians 2, we're saved by grace through faith alone and not of works. James 2, that faith will produce works if it's real. A fundamental.

Somehow the fundamentals of faith can take our whole lives to get down. My Dad and I have asked each other through a number of confusing life decisions, "Does faith mean 'wait on the Lord' and don't try to help Him, or does it mean do what you can, be diligent to knock on doors and trust the Lord will open the right one?"

This confusion occurs all the more in ministry. For instance, George, a member of TEN3's curriculum department, is to go to Nigeria to work with writers for three weeks starting May 20. He has the funds to go, the time seems appropriate, and we really need this face-to-face time with them. However, George wisely does not want to go alone, as the circumstances would likely put him one-on-one with females, which is a bad idea in ministry.

Solution? Send Ray, the other available member of the curriculum department, with him. The problem was that Ray didn't have the funds. He sent out a letter to supporters to make the need known, but there wouldn't be enough time to process any gifts that came in before his ticket would have to be purchased. So we had to make a decision--we could front the money from an organizational account if he could get the donations in later to reimburse the account. But we had to make the decision before we would know if that money would come in.

So why not have me go with George, or with both of them? Well, these married folks can only stay away a few weeks at a time, whereas if young, happily single I could stay for months at a time, writers could come see me once a week or so and we get much more done together. Though I have enough funds in my ministry account to make such a trip work, SIM has enough experience to know a long-term missionary shouldn't exhaust all her funds for a short-term venture, so I'm waiting for my monthly support to build up.

Which brings me back to the faith question--is it a double standard to front Ray's money in faith that it will come in, but for me to have to wait until money is actually coming? I don't think so, because there's no distinct answer to this in the Bible--it's different for every situation. Sometimes God works in a big "Stand still and see the power of the Lord" way; sometimes He works through our day-and-night toil that seems to bring little fruit. God is growing in us a mature faith that can both act and wait, and a heart that is close enough to Him to know which He wants today.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A poem I wrote four years ago

This Cup

Forcing myself, Never Good. Enough.
“Save!”  atonement “Come.”
All I have been screams for dear life,
  for everything I grasped, that is not life.
The Savior continues to quietly beckon.
This boldfaced acceptance of my death--
Gulp down the pain, remembering His. . .
Dying. Drink. -(poison) A reckless release
to unseen hope (medicine)- Finding. Life.
--is a risk that I cannot afford not to take.
“No more my will,  but what You will.”
All this, that I may imbibe of the new
marriage covenant, a regular sacrifice;
slammed with intensely bitter waves
tossed upon the richly sweet fluid.
As I accept the momentous cup
from Your bleeding hand
that took it first
and filled it,
I want
the faith
to not
but quaff the full;
To partake of all of You.